Ada Bird was born on a section of the old Utopia Station at Atangkere, c 1930 and passed away peacefully on 28th June 2009. Her country was Atnangkerre and her dreamings include the Angertla, (Mountain Desert Lizard), Engcarma (Bean), Unyara (Emu), Annlara (Pencil Yam), Kadjera (Grass Seeds) and Elaitchurunga (Small Brown Grass) Dreamings. Ada Bird was one of the famous 7 Petyarre sisters of Utopia which include Gloria Petyarre, Nancy, Myrtle, Kathleen, Violet, and Jeannie Petyarre. Another well known artist, Lindsay Bird, is her brother-in-law.
Ada Bird became a significant member of one of the most important groups to develop out of desert painting - the Utopia women. Initially this group, in which Ada played such a prominent part, produced desert designs on silk and cotton with the batik technique. These art works were produced first in 1977, the very year that the Anmatyerre and Alyawarre people began moving back on to their traditional land at Utopia Station where they resettled in a variety of outstations. The success of the batik movement led eventually to the artists - mostly women - trying their hand at painting with acrylic on linen in the summer of 1988-9. Their efforts were well coordinated by CAAMA in what was termed "A Summer Project". The project provided the opportunity for Ada to begin as a painter.
Ada Bird's paintings are aligned with her personality: vibrant, outgoing, fun loving and beautifully honest! She is a lover of bright colours, in particular blue, but also paints in more traditional and subdued colours. Her works are expressive of her lifestyle. She was a wonderful mother to June, Hilda, Colin, Steven, Paddy and Ronnie and a grandmother to so many! She was a traditional, senior woman who involves herself in ceremony, dance and painting. Ada used her art to instruct, teach and demonstrate to young women the ways of their parents, grandparents and beyond. In Awelye dreaming, Ada used a series of lines and dispersed dot work to recreate the patterns painted on the women's bodies during ceremonial occasions while also painting her Mountain Devil Lizard dreaming.
Anne Speed, Cicada Trading's director, will always treasure the time she spent with Ada Bird over the past few years. Ada's photo has been removed out of respect.
Utopia Art, Sydney; 1988 numerous group exhibitions with other Utopia batik artists, including Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; 1988 Aboriginal "Dot" Painting, Melbourne; 1989 Australian National Gallery, Canberra; 1990, 1994 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; 1989 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; 1991 Harvard University, Boston, U.S.A.; 1998 Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs; 1993 Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; 1997 Sutton Gallery, Melbourne; 1997, 1999, 2000 Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne; 1999 Embassy of Australia, Washington; 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 Chapel off Chapel, Melbourne; 2000 'From Utopia to Kintore"; 2000 Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne; 2001 'Icons of Australian Aboriginal Art', Singapore; 2003 Glen Eira City Gallery, Melbourne; 2005 Cicada Trading, Houston, USA; 2005 Cicada Trading Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey; 2006 Cicada Trading Gallery, Abu Dhabi, UAE; 2006 Cicada Trading, Kingdom of Bahrain.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Perth; Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Museum of Victoria, Melbourne; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin; Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia; Powerhouse Museum, Sydney; University of Queensland, Brisbane; Artbank, Sydney; Richard Kelton Foundation Santa Monica, USA.
· 1997 finalist in 14th NATSIAA.
Note: From Aboriginal Artists, dictionary of biographies by Janusz B. Kreczmanski and Margo Birnberg